The first week of April saw the leaders of world capitalism converge on London for the G20 summit, which agreed to a version of Gordon Brown’s latest plan to “save the world”. The Prime Minister boasted that a “historic” $1.1 trillion programme of investment and new regulation for international finance would mean a “new world order”.
Such efforts at state support for the financial giants and Brown’s “quantitative easing” (printing money) may indeed serve to relieve some rather constipated markets. And yet the slogan of the London summit “Stability. Growth. Jobs.” and the grandiose speeches of our rulers ring hollow to the many millions who are being put out of a job and whose services are being slashed as a result of the capitalists’ crisis in the here and now.
There is nothing new about the “new world order”: the bubble of neo-liberalism having been burst, the ruling class in the USA, UK, France and so on have resorted to the well-worn Keynesian formulas of the past. The ideological baggage of just a couple of years ago-when Brown and his ilk extolled the virtues of the free market and getting filthy rich-has now been junked and seamlessly replaced with attacks on “greedy” bankers and attempts to posture as ‘socially responsible’, such as when Deputy Labour Leader Harriet Harman called for the return of the enormous pension paid out to ex-RBS chief Fred “the shred” Goodwin.
Our rulers know the mess they’re in, and that a healthy dose of state intervention might help steady the ship of capitalism in stormy times. Through organisations like the G20, the ruling class can plan the interests of capital on a larger scale and on a longer time-frame than any individual bank’s boardroom ever would. Seeking to root out ‘bad eggs’ in the system like Fred Goodwin or the fraudster Bernie Madoff, governments want the ‘responsible’ running of capitalism.
Despite what Labourite union leaders might want to believe, Gordon Brown’s statement, “The problem of unbridled free markets in an unsupervised market place is that they can reduce all relationships to transactions, all motivations to self-interest, all sense of value to consumer choice and all sense of worth to a price tag” is therefore no evidence that the Labour government is anything other than part and parcel of the capitalist class. Whatever sops they may deliver to appease us, states and collectives of states like the G20 are just cartels which serve the interests of capital as a whole.
One thing they cannot do is represent the interests of the working class. Such institutions are run by and for the ruling class and have nothing to do with the vast majority of people, those of us who do not own banks or call centres or administer armies and government departments, but who must either sell our capacity to work in order to survive, or try and eke out an existence on state handouts.
We cannot ‘control’ the G20, whose sole purpose is to better plan the system of exploitation and whose summit was held in secret, miles from the centre of London and ringed by thousands of armed police. This was made even more clear with the soggy ‘Put People First’ demonstration organised by the Trades Union Congress, liberal NGOs and charities which meekly pleaded for Obama, Brown, Sarkozy and co. to hand down a few crumbs to the rest of us… achieving nothing. The jobs massacre puts tens of thousands more on the dole every week, and more jobs are neither going to fall from the sky nor from the top table of the G20 summit.
To defend workers’ interests, there is simply no substitute for workers’ self-organisation: workers standing up for themselves, asserting their power rather than hoping for mercy. Forcing the capitalists to relent rather than waiting for them to do it of their own accord. And it is precisely this force which has now exploded onto the political scene.